CODA DI VOLPE
Executive Chef Chris Thompson brings his experience and passion for Southern Italian cuisine to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood at Coda di Volpe. A VPN-certified chef, Thompson’s traditional Neapolitan pizzas have made reservations at this new restaurant some of the hardest to come by. He comes to Chicago by way of San Francisco, where he served as Executive Chef of award-winning A16.
Born in Long Beach, California and raised in the resort town of Telluride, Colorado, his first job as a teenager was working as a short order cook at a lodge. “At the time, I was more interested in having a job that would allow me to snowboard during the day but there was something in the controlled chaos of that job that really drew me in.” says Thompson.
After a few prep cook positions, Thompson took his first step into fine dining at Telluride’s Rustico Ristorante. Thompson quickly found his niche in the Northern Italian eatery which focused on bread baking and hand-tossing pizzas. He also learned the amazing craft of making charcuterie while working at Rustico. “The mother of one of my Italian chefs would send shipments of special salumi seasonings and spices each month,” says Thompson. “We had no idea what to do with them so we started experimenting through trial-and-error since we didn’t have any recipes to follow.”
Attracted to the abundance of strong culinary figures in the area, Thompson moved to San Francisco in 2008. He saw San Francisco as place to refine his culinary skills and spent three years working at Spruce, a high-end restaurant focused on locally farmed ingredients, also offering a top-notch charcuterie program. Under Spruce’s Chef Mark Sullivan, Thompson helped to maintain the restaurant’s three-and-a-half star standing with the San Francisco Chronicle as well as the kitchen’s one Michelin star.
In 2011, Thompson was tapped to cultivate A16’s charcuterie program, encompassing the restaurant’s signature salumi, bresaola, and terrines. The transition allowed Thompson to build on his expertise in Italian cuisine, creating house made pastas, wood fired pizzas, and hearty sauces. “Going back to Italian cuisine at A16 was like coming home,” says Thompson.
Chef Thompson moved to Chicago with his fiancée in 2016 to helm the kitchen at Coda di Volpe. He uses his expertise in Southern Italian cooking to create a dynamic menu that changes nearly every day, always highlighting seasonal produce, interesting regional ingredients, and, of course, housemade charcuterie. Using the restaurant’s gorgeous Stefano Ferrara oven, he crafts traditional Neapolitan pizzas served with authentic shears in order to uphold the integrity of each pizza. He has also implemented Timpano Tuesdays at Coda di Volpe, at which time guests can indulge in Thompson’s take on the Southern Italian specialty. Under Thompson’s direction, Coda di Volpe has become a treasured neighborhood gem in Chicago’s Southport Corridor.
Chef Thompson participated in Chicago Gourmet 2016 and Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2014.